JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Toronto Urban Film Festival - Encounters (Guest Judge: Mark McKinney) - September 7, 2008

Toronto Urban Film Festival - Encounters

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Urban Encounters

Marc Roussel
Four stars
Cellphone dating takes an amusing twist as the identical communication devices (how are gender differences determined?) get the hots for one another while lying side-by-side in an upscale bar. Hopefully, their owners aren’t brother and sister and will let their smitten phones move beyond text messaging! Clever concept, nicely edited.

All Out War Trailer
Robert Pilichowski
Four and one-half stars
The slow-moving camera and the gyrating hip-hop dancers combine spectacularly. Don’t miss the freeze frame. Making the transition from the dance floor through vinyl and out of a hoisted ghetto blaster shows imaginative creativity. Lose the Nike spot and it’s a gem. Bring on the feature!

Carlo Ghioni and Isabella Stefanescu
Three and one-half stars
A ride on the streetcar delves into the urban realities of temptation, greed and generosity. A free newspaper is reluctantly pilfered, only to have the gleaming toonie await another passerby. Wish that more of us would even think twice as we venture through the world.

Vinu Senthil
Four stars
Dashing for the train like it’s the last one ever coming is an ingrained part of proving just how “fast paced” life is in big cities. On this downward sprint to a closed door (on the opposite side of the tracks, of course), the hero barely registers the beautiful co-commuter with the engaging smile. Fortunately, his transit failure may well blossom into urban, urgent desire.

Homeless in Toronto
Katy Sems and Katie Meyer
Four stars
Perhaps Heartless in Toronto would be a more apt title as a single teddy offers himself to any taker (furry or human) in locales ranging from the Royal Ontario Museum to a street busker’s shoulder to a park bench. Happily, Momma Bear comes out of the woods and it’s love at first fuzzy cuddle. A tad cheesy, but an urban love story just the same.

How We Dance
Steve Reinke
One-half star
A visual sleeper with no real payoff. Arthur Murray can rest easy.

Like No One’s Watching
Haley Redpath and Scott Rodgers
Three and one-half stars
This wee “Bus Stop Blues” features the cool dude beating on his thighs then breaking into a full air-drum kit as the music from his personal listening device reaches its climax. A demure woman sits quietly on the bench but can’t help her amusement when the unknown musician realizes his antics have been witnessed. No worries: he sticks his now silent hands into his pants—another harbour of personal safety.

Rooftop Encounter
Raymond Ng
Four stars
Classical dance finds an unlikely setting as a mixed-race young couple says “hello” with their svelte bodies on an otherwise deserted rooftop (skillfully performed by Estelle Nicolaidis and Jerome Jean-Gilles). Hundreds of voyeurs probably enjoyed the display as much as you will from the raft of towering condos that were within sight. Hmm, Toronto the sensual.

Christos Tsirbas
Four and one-half stars
“Smile and the whole world smiles with you” comes to life via the words and cartoon stick-people from this engaging artist. It’s a breath of fresh air—let’s hope the message becomes contagious!

The Kissing Project
Anna-Lea Boeki
Four and one-half stars
Five couples, 10 pairs of lips—no waiting! Stumbling upon these avid kissers reveals just how middle-of-the-road Torontonians can be. Mild shock, slight amusement, and a feeling that Candid Camera is on location. The face eaters had all of the fun while the rest went quickly past the affectionate display, yet many secretly harboured the desire to switch places …. Can’t wait for the sequel (subliminally alluded to in the final frames)!

The Remains of the Date
James Teevan and Melissa Hood
Four stars
Ah love—the things it makes us do. A waitress with attitude (and not a few ounces of jealously) serves up several rounds of libations to a head-over-heels-for-each-other couple who seem to be littering the well-appointed bar with its own table enhancements. But when the fully-quenched lovebirds stagger off to carnal bliss, their server discovers she’s totally misunderstood the apparently thoughtless actions. Couldn’t happen in real life …. JWR

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